4:57 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I want to simply say that we have tried to check with everybody on our side to make sure that those who had amendments were agreeable to this. We think that that is the case and, as a result, we will not object and hope this facilitates the handling of this bill tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

4:57 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I want to simply say that we have tried to check with everybody on our side to make sure that those who had amendments were agreeable to this. We think that that is the case and, as a result, we will not object and hope this facilitates the handling of this bill tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

4:57 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I want to simply say that we have tried to check with everybody on our side to make sure that those who had amendments were agreeable to this. We think that that is the case and, as a result, we will not object and hope this facilitates the handling of this bill tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

4:57 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I want to simply say that we have tried to check with everybody on our side to make sure that those who had amendments were agreeable to this. We think that that is the case and, as a result, we will not object and hope this facilitates the handling of this bill tonight.

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.

5:00 PM EDT
Frank R. Wolf, R-VA 10th

Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) has taken the leadership on this issue with regard to Sierra Leone. We visited Sierra Leone in the month of December.

This picture is of a young girl that we saw who had her arms cut off because of conflict diamonds. In Sierra Leone, the rebels have taken over the areas and are pursuing the war. And this picture is another young little girl with her arms cut off. They are pursuing the war by the sale of what they call conflict or blood diamonds.

On behalf of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), we offered an amendment, which was adopted unanimously by Republicans and Democrats in the subcommittee and not challenged in the full committee, to prohibit the importation of diamonds coming from certain countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where Charles Taylor in Liberia is doing terrible things, and Burkina Faso and other countries.

In the Congo, in the last 22 months, 1.6 to 1.7 million people have died. Thirty-five percent of these killed are under the age of 5.

So this amendment is here in order to stop conflict diamonds.

On this floor several weeks ago, this Congress voted not to send the money for U.S. peacekeeping. No one wants to send American soldiers. So there can be U.N. peacekeepers, at the minimum, which ought to prohibit the importation of what is called conflict or blood diamonds.

This is also in the best interests of the people of Sierra Leone but also the diamond merchants. Because if it ever gets out that every time a young woman or young man purchases a diamond, and 65 percent of the diamonds in the world are sold in our country, the American people do not want to buy blood diamonds, then I think the diamond market may very well be in trouble.

So, for this reason, we offer the amendment to stop this issue.

Keep in mind, too, the life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 25.6 years.

So I wanted to be heard. And I know my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), wants to be heard on this issue and the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs (Mr. ROYCE), who has been so good on this issue and has really focused on it, wants to be heard.

I do want to say that I understand the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) will be making an announcement that he is going to hold a hearing. I personally want to thank him for his willingness to do this, which will help us after the August break to focus on the issue. So I want to personally thank the gentleman very much for his willingness to do this.

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his help on this issue. I appreciate it very much. I also appreciate the help of the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) on this issue. He has provided great leadership.

5:00 PM EDT
Frank R. Wolf, R-VA 10th

Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) has taken the leadership on this issue with regard to Sierra Leone. We visited Sierra Leone in the month of December.

This picture is of a young girl that we saw who had her arms cut off because of conflict diamonds. In Sierra Leone, the rebels have taken over the areas and are pursuing the war. And this picture is another young little girl with her arms cut off. They are pursuing the war by the sale of what they call conflict or blood diamonds.

On behalf of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), we offered an amendment, which was adopted unanimously by Republicans and Democrats in the subcommittee and not challenged in the full committee, to prohibit the importation of diamonds coming from certain countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where Charles Taylor in Liberia is doing terrible things, and Burkina Faso and other countries.

In the Congo, in the last 22 months, 1.6 to 1.7 million people have died. Thirty-five percent of these killed are under the age of 5.

So this amendment is here in order to stop conflict diamonds.

On this floor several weeks ago, this Congress voted not to send the money for U.S. peacekeeping. No one wants to send American soldiers. So there can be U.N. peacekeepers, at the minimum, which ought to prohibit the importation of what is called conflict or blood diamonds.

This is also in the best interests of the people of Sierra Leone but also the diamond merchants. Because if it ever gets out that every time a young woman or young man purchases a diamond, and 65 percent of the diamonds in the world are sold in our country, the American people do not want to buy blood diamonds, then I think the diamond market may very well be in trouble.

So, for this reason, we offer the amendment to stop this issue.

Keep in mind, too, the life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 25.6 years.

So I wanted to be heard. And I know my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), wants to be heard on this issue and the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs (Mr. ROYCE), who has been so good on this issue and has really focused on it, wants to be heard.

I do want to say that I understand the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) will be making an announcement that he is going to hold a hearing. I personally want to thank him for his willingness to do this, which will help us after the August break to focus on the issue. So I want to personally thank the gentleman very much for his willingness to do this.

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his help on this issue. I appreciate it very much. I also appreciate the help of the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) on this issue. He has provided great leadership.

5:04 PM EDT
Tony P. Hall, D-OH 3rd

Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his not only recognizing me but for his work on this particular section of the bill concerning diamonds.

I just support everything that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) has said. He and I are partners on this issue and so many issues. We have traveled together often.

The last time we were together in Africa was in Sierra Leone. The reason why this is germane and relative to us in America, people might ask, What does this have to do with us? Well, we buy 65 to 70 percent of all the diamonds in the world; and a good percentage of those, at least somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of them, are what we call illicit diamonds, conflict diamonds, blood diamonds. They come out of areas like Sierra Leone and the Congo, Angola, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea.

What happens is that these diamond areas are seized by rebels. For example, in Sierra Leone, a rag-tag group of young people, 400 rebel soldiers, increased their whole lot, their whole army to about 25 to 26,000 overnight because they seized the diamonds mines.

What they do is they not only seize the diamond mines, they use the diamonds to trade for guns, pretty sophisticated guns, and buy drugs. And at the same time, they bring a lot of young soldiers into the rebel army, and they inflict cuts on their arms and on their heads and they put these drugs into them to the point where they go in and they commit all the atrocities.

The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I visited amputee camps. We visited refugee camps where children's arms were cut off. They play this hideous game that when they go into a village they not only rape most of the women there, but they say to most of the villagers, stick your hand in this bag and pull out a piece of paper. If the piece of paper says ``hand,'' your hand gets chopped off. If the piece of paper says ``foot,'' they chop it off with a hatchet. If the piece of paper says

``ear'' or ``nose,'' they cut it off.

We have seen this over and over again. This is not just something that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I are talking about. This has been proven over and over and over again by many human rights groups, by the U.N.

There are a lot of boycotts on diamonds from Sierra Leone to Angola to these countries that we have mentioned.

I reluctantly agree to allow this and not offer in the Committee on Rules an amendment to protect this particular section because I understand in talking to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) that he is going to have a hearing; and, hopefully, we can get some justification, we can stop this hideous kind of killings that are going on in the world.

The reason why it is relevant to us is that we buy most of the diamonds in the world, and in some cases our people need to know that diamonds are not a girl's best friend. Sometimes they cause death, maiming, killing, all kinds of atrocities.

So with that, we are hopeful we can get some action this year. We are hopeful that the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) and the Committee on Ways and Means will do something about this.

5:04 PM EDT
Tony P. Hall, D-OH 3rd

Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his not only recognizing me but for his work on this particular section of the bill concerning diamonds.

I just support everything that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) has said. He and I are partners on this issue and so many issues. We have traveled together often.

The last time we were together in Africa was in Sierra Leone. The reason why this is germane and relative to us in America, people might ask, What does this have to do with us? Well, we buy 65 to 70 percent of all the diamonds in the world; and a good percentage of those, at least somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of them, are what we call illicit diamonds, conflict diamonds, blood diamonds. They come out of areas like Sierra Leone and the Congo, Angola, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Guinea.

What happens is that these diamond areas are seized by rebels. For example, in Sierra Leone, a rag-tag group of young people, 400 rebel soldiers, increased their whole lot, their whole army to about 25 to 26,000 overnight because they seized the diamonds mines.

What they do is they not only seize the diamond mines, they use the diamonds to trade for guns, pretty sophisticated guns, and buy drugs. And at the same time, they bring a lot of young soldiers into the rebel army, and they inflict cuts on their arms and on their heads and they put these drugs into them to the point where they go in and they commit all the atrocities.

The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I visited amputee camps. We visited refugee camps where children's arms were cut off. They play this hideous game that when they go into a village they not only rape most of the women there, but they say to most of the villagers, stick your hand in this bag and pull out a piece of paper. If the piece of paper says ``hand,'' your hand gets chopped off. If the piece of paper says ``foot,'' they chop it off with a hatchet. If the piece of paper says

``ear'' or ``nose,'' they cut it off.

We have seen this over and over again. This is not just something that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and I are talking about. This has been proven over and over and over again by many human rights groups, by the U.N.

There are a lot of boycotts on diamonds from Sierra Leone to Angola to these countries that we have mentioned.

I reluctantly agree to allow this and not offer in the Committee on Rules an amendment to protect this particular section because I understand in talking to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) that he is going to have a hearing; and, hopefully, we can get some justification, we can stop this hideous kind of killings that are going on in the world.

The reason why it is relevant to us is that we buy most of the diamonds in the world, and in some cases our people need to know that diamonds are not a girl's best friend. Sometimes they cause death, maiming, killing, all kinds of atrocities.

So with that, we are hopeful we can get some action this year. We are hopeful that the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) and the Committee on Ways and Means will do something about this.

5:08 PM EDT
Ed Royce, R-CA 39th

Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, these Sierra Leone diamonds that we are talking about and the conflict that is raging there are only a small part of Africa's production. However, the American public increasingly associates the devastation and the mayhem occurring in Sierra Leone with the sale of legitimately produced diamonds.

That makes it very difficult for other countries in Africa, like Botswana and Namibia and South Africa, to use the proceeds from the sale of their diamonds in order to produce an education for their population, clean water and health care.

I think the United States Congress must help ensure that the legitimate diamond industries in these countries are not adversely affected by the justifiable outrage over the anarchy and atrocities linked with conflict diamonds. And it was the message that the Subcommittee on African Affairs received from the African government and human rights groups at our hearing on May 9 on this issue.

Now we have a special responsibility because Americans purchase more than 60 percent of these diamonds. I think my colleagues have heard the testimony from my colleagues about the mayhem that is occurring today in Sierra Leone. We must do all we can to bring an end to the tragic conflict in diamonds coming out of Sierra Leone and coming out of Liberia. Because, frankly, the proceeds from the sale of those diamonds are being used in order to arm the Revolutionary United Front, the RUF, which has

decapitated or struck the limbs off some 20,000 women and children to date.

If my colleagues go into Freetown, they will see countless numbers of maimed children on the streets as a result of this campaign of terror. And if we ask how did Fodoy Sankoh receive the financing to do this, it is from the sale of these conflict diamonds, it is from the fact that these diamonds have also gone over the border into Liberia where his ally, Charles Taylor, has also used them in order to obtain the funds for this activity.

I think we must applaud the recent efforts of the international diamond industry to prevent rebel groups from using illicitly obtained diamonds to finance senseless wars. It has instituted [Page: H6658]

new controls that will make it more difficult for conflict diamonds to be sold. But vigilance is necessary to prevent unscrupulous dealers from avoiding these new, tougher regulations.

I just want to thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) for their efforts. I would hope that more Members of this body would join them in their efforts to ensure the vigilance of these regulations and to ensure that we can try to impose an embargo on Liberia and on Sierra Leone in order to prevent this senseless war from continuing.

5:11 PM EDT
Phil Crane, R-IL 8th

Mr. CRANE. Mr. Chairman, clause 2(b) of rule XXI states that no provision changing existing law shall be reported in any general appropriation bill.

However, this provision would prevent the use of appropriated funds to allow the placement of diamonds from certain countries into foreign or domestic commerce.

Specifically, the provision imposes a new administrative burden on the U.S. Customs Service not authorized under existing law by requiring Customs to enforce a new certification requirement which would be based on the place of mining of the diamonds.

Under current law, no certification at all is required. In addition, Customs never examines the place of mining but makes origin determination based on cutting and polishing. This certification requirement places an extensive burden on Customs both in terms of procedural documentation requirements and substantive origin determination.

It clearly violates clause 2(b) of rule XXI, which prohibits legislating on an appropriations bill.

However, I would like to assure the gentlemen that have spoken this evening that I agree that the diamond trade in Africa is of grave concern to me. I plan to hold a hearing in the subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means in September to examine this issue. I hope to work with the gentlemen, as well as the administration, to find a viable means to deal with this issue.

I do not support the use of trade sanctions, but recent action by the United Nations affirming the use of multilateral trade sanctions makes this an issue well worth considering.

In the meantime, however, I must insist on my point of order, and I urge the Chair to sustain the point of order.

5:11 PM EDT
Phil Crane, R-IL 8th

Mr. CRANE. Mr. Chairman, clause 2(b) of rule XXI states that no provision changing existing law shall be reported in any general appropriation bill.

However, this provision would prevent the use of appropriated funds to allow the placement of diamonds from certain countries into foreign or domestic commerce.

Specifically, the provision imposes a new administrative burden on the U.S. Customs Service not authorized under existing law by requiring Customs to enforce a new certification requirement which would be based on the place of mining of the diamonds.

Under current law, no certification at all is required. In addition, Customs never examines the place of mining but makes origin determination based on cutting and polishing. This certification requirement places an extensive burden on Customs both in terms of procedural documentation requirements and substantive origin determination.

It clearly violates clause 2(b) of rule XXI, which prohibits legislating on an appropriations bill.

However, I would like to assure the gentlemen that have spoken this evening that I agree that the diamond trade in Africa is of grave concern to me. I plan to hold a hearing in the subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means in September to examine this issue. I hope to work with the gentlemen, as well as the administration, to find a viable means to deal with this issue.

I do not support the use of trade sanctions, but recent action by the United Nations affirming the use of multilateral trade sanctions makes this an issue well worth considering.

In the meantime, however, I must insist on my point of order, and I urge the Chair to sustain the point of order.